Category

Personal Finance
Financial Q&A
A running thread of reader questions and our answers and research about the impact of COVID-19 on your finances.
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EI/CERB Updates
Stay at home orders have forced many Canadians to be temporarily out of work and collecting government benefits for the first time in their lives. This article is continuously updated with q+a about the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and EI to help Canadians apply for and receive their benefits.
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Financial Wellbeing
Running commentary and news updates on COVID-19's impact on banking, real estate, mortgages, government relief programs, personal credit, and other financial health matters of concern to Canadians.
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Save 100k good hygiene
Many services are available to give Canadians free access to their credit scores, but the problem is they all provide different results. No industry standards exist to ensure credit score consistency. The solution is to worry about overall 'credit hygiene' rather than any specific credit score. We provide nine strategies to manage credit hygiene and...
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Reverse Mortgages (55 yrs+)
If You Have Considered a Reverse Mortgage, Now Might Be the Best Possible Time to Tap Into Your Home Equity Reverse Mortgage is an idea whose time is now. Factor together our aging population, exploding home values, and the high cost of living, there is so much home equity that seniors age 55 and over...
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Rising Interest Rates and Your Mortgage
Published: • Since the summer of 2017 we have seen the Bank of Canada Prime interest rate increase five times – from a low of 2.7% to the current 3.95%. This means that most homeowners with variable rate mortgages saw their mortgage payment increase five times in eighteen months! At the same time, five-year fixed...
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BEST MORTGAGE CONSUMER 700450X THUMBNAIL
When the bank said 'no' to mortgage renewal because of a consumer proposal, switching to an alternative lender and paying off the consumer proposal early provided immediate debt relief and improved cash flow.
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You Should Open An Account With CRA
Why Everyone Needs An Account With CRA, and How To Open One These days dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency is so much easier if you take advantage of their online services. They have a portal called Your Account, which contains an incredible amount of your personal past and current tax related information, all in...
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Thirty Ways To Save Money
ASKROSS’s Top Thirty Tips For Being ‘Casually Frugal’ With Your Money In my financial planning and credit counseling businesses I get to see how people spend their hard earned money. It is always mystifying how so many will complain about there never being enough money to go around, yet to me they seem to be...
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Mortgage Portability Can Be a Borrower's Lifeline
Always Ask Whether the Mortgage You Are Offered Includes a Portability Clause A buyer called me recently to pre-approve him for a $490,000 mortgage as he is upgrading the family home. Today he  has a $250,000 mortgage  with a major chartered bank.  I am able to comfortably approve him with practically any lender, but I...
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tenants need good credit 700x450X THUMBNAIL
High-Quality Credit Score Just As Essential to Renters As Home Buyers If you have rented an apartment in the past, you know that landlords typically ask you about your credit history. Tenants need a good credit history as much as home buyers looking for a mortgage do. In fact, we believe all Canadians should pay attention...
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How To Stand Out From Other Rental Applicants
Presenting Yourself As Most Desirable Renter Is Key To Winning Your Desired Apartment Renting a place to live is not something you can afford to take a casual approach to. As a twenty-something who has been living away from my parents’ home for many years, I’ve come to understand how important it is to be well prepared when...
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Secured Visa Application 700x450X THUMBNAIL
Using Credit Cards To Start Rebuilding Damaged Credit Each week I receive calls and emails asking me for help in rebuilding damaged credit histories. Often, s/he has come off (or is still in) a consumer proposal, or debt settlement or personal bankruptcy and is truly starting from ground zero. How to rebuild your credit history...
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Borrowing to invest tax efficiently is not news
How can you use equity in your home for investment purposes? Mortgage professionals and financial planners like to trumpet the famous Smith Manoeuvre, as coined by Fraser Smith (1938-2011) In a nutshell, this program shows you how to free up equity in your home for investment purposes, and to do so in a tax-efficient manner....
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Introducing the Canadian Personal Finance Hub
Introducing the Canadian Personal Finance Hub I am working on a new free offering – it’s a daily personal finance news digest sent directly to your inbox. This is a work in progress, so please bear with me, and let me know at any time if you have specific areas of interest you would like to see. My...
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never give up
Why you should never give up – even when things seem hopeless! If you have never had to count your pennies (literally) to live day to day, you may not be able to empathize with today’s featured clients. But believe you me, when times are desperate, it can feel like there is no way out...
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Should you buy your first home or pay off your student debt? This is part two of the response to a question from Alison, who wanted to know if she should first pay off her student loans before saving for a house. You can read part one here. Hi Alison, I like the idea of...
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Consumers Spend Too Much On Housing
Buying As Much House As You Can Afford, and Not Working to a Budget Can Set You Up for Failure In our zeal to qualify for a mortgage, we strive to meet the debt service ratios used by all major mortgage lenders. The rule of thumb the lenders use is your mortgage payments, property taxes...
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Managing first credit card
My teen has racked up debt on their first credit card! “Dear Ross: As a parent of an otherwise wonderful and responsible 18 year old daughter, I am struggling how best to deal with the fact that she has already run up a $750 balance on her first credit card, and she has only had...
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REFINANCE 700450X THUMBNAIL
Refinancing your mortgage can be a great tool to achieve many different financial goals, from saving money by lowering your rate, to consolidating debts, to taking cash out of your equity for renovations, investment opportunities or even education.
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Couple Spends More Than They Make
Not Balancing Your Budget Is More Stressful In Long Term Than Taking Your Lumps Now Brian and Susan have down sized their home three times in the past two years. Brian used to be a self employed website designer, making close to $100,000 per year, but business dried up when the recession was in full force,...
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Force yourself to manage your finances
Force yourself to manage your finances No one else is going to do it for you. It’s one of your biggest day to day responsibilities – yet many people have no plan, and no clue. Okay what does this mean? Am I talking about the dreaded “budget” word? Everyone talks about budgets and very few...
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8 Secrets To Raise Money Smart Children
Published: • How Can I Raise Money Smart Children? There are no exceptions – we all have to learn how to manage money matters – yet very little is done in advance to prepare us for this massive responsibility. Real-world examples and education at an early age will be some of the best advice you...
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Secrets of Financial Success
A Basic Primer For Achieving Financial Strength Throughout Your Life This is intended to be a basic primer for setting you on the right course for financial strength throughout your life. As you become more and more successful, you will seek out more sophisticated information – and there’s lots of that widely available in books,...
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How to manage debts, savings and mortgage
Most of us struggle with finding a balance in our personal finances. A reader recently asked me: “I have a good question for you. How do you manage savings, a buffer for emergency, and basically daily funds when all you want to do is pay down that mortgage as quickly as possible? What’s a good...
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Build and maintain an awesome credit history 700x450X THUMBNAIL
Why is it important to build and maintain an amazing credit history? When the time comes to borrow money (buy a car, buy your first home, sign a rental agreement, etc.) you will be offered the best terms and lowest interest rates if your credit score sings like an angel. And if you ever find...
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Rebuild Credit Score 700x450X THUMBNAIL
Published:   •  William Asks: I’m Paying Off a Consumer Proposal. Was It a Mistake To Stop Using My Secured Credit Card? I am currently paying off a consumer proposal. My situation is, after filing for a proposal I got a secured BMO MasterCard. I used that card for about one year into the CP....
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Credit Score Needs a Quick Increase
The fastest way to see a boost in your credit score Hi Ross, I have a client who wants to close a couple of NEW credit card accounts for the purpose of adjusting their overall credit balance to credit limit ratio. Is that a good idea? Don’t close the cards unless a lender insists. The...
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Unused Tuition Tax Credits
How to turn unused tuition tax credits into cash Hi Ross, I have accumulated a large amount of tuition tax credits over the past several years. It’s going to be a long time before I can use them, as I am enrolled in medical school starting this September. Is there some way I can materialize...
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Credit card charged monthly for phone app
Your Credit Card Company Does Not Always Have Your Back with Unauthorized Charges Dear Ross, my teenage son has a cell phone which I pay for, and also has a supplementary visa card from my bank. I am trying to teach him how to use such things responsibly, but it seems he “accidentally” subscribed to...
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Trustee In Bankruptcy Catches Mortgage Fraud
A Bankruptcy Trustee Is Opposing a Mortgage That We Were Advised to Register Against My Parents’ Home to Protect Their Equity. What Can We Do? Dear Ross, two years ago my parents ran into debt problems and went to see an insolvency ‘expert’. He reviewed their information and informed them the equity in their home...
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Beware of being scammed by someone you trust Dear Ross, I have worked in a busy gentleman’s club for three years as a bartender. Last year I began dating Sam the owner, and he suggested I put together the money to buy the club, as it was ‘printing money’. I was very intrigued. He also...
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Ellen Roseman’s Fight Back – All about everyday ways that life will cost you and what you can do about it Just released last month, Ellen’s new book Fight Back – 81 ways to help you save money is flying off bookstore shelves. Lots of practical advice to save money and win those battles we...
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When you’re donating online – check the dollar amount before submitting! A couple of days ago a friend sent me an email asking me to support his efforts in Relay for Life on behalf of the Canadian Cancer Society. No problem, I clicked the link and quickly sized things up. His campaign goal was a...
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Trying to qualify for a huge mortgage without sufficient income will not work Caller: Hello is that Ross? I just put an offer on a house for $3.1 million and I want to put it in my sister’s name. Can you do a mortgage for her? Ross: Hi, yes it’s me. I’d be glad to...
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Hi Ross, My 18yr old goes into CIBC in Victoria requesting an RRSP account to deposit $50/month Bank says “No, you should get a TFSA” Kid leaves confused because Mom taught her to get RRSP @ 18 but the bank says Mom is wrong. Now what do I tell her? Thanks! Mandy From Ross: Mum...
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If an email asks you for personal information – be ware! Today I opened my Hotmail account and read an extremely high quality (but highly fraudulent) email allegedly from the Windows Live Hotmail team. Even I paused for a second, because they said if I don’t reply within 48 hours they would shut down my...
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Expecting a drop in your income next year? Use your RRSP to generate thousands of tax refund dollars! This is really simple – and is best used only by someone who has a husky taxable income in 2011, and expects a radically lower income in 2012. All you do is make a very large contribution...
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Declaring bankruptcy isn’t as difficult as you might think! I always tell clients that declaring bankruptcy is not so difficult – relief from hounding creditors and their agents is just a few signatures away. It’s a bit harder to secure an automatic discharge from your bankruptcy though – and that, for most, is the point...
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How to get a new car for dealer cost and with low interest! Last week my daughter Natasha picked up her brand new pearly white Mazda 2 from Avante Mazda in Richmond Hill. She has been nursing an older, but reliable 2004 Elantra since graduating from WLU almost three years ago, and finally decided she...
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You can still be a victim of banking fraud even if you take precautions I get teased for treating my computer like Fort Knox. I use Avast anti virus, and run scans twice a week. I use a malware detector, and I also use Registry Mechanic to keep my registry clean. I don’t surf sites...
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Are budgeting tools offered by banks useful? And do they track what you’re inputting? Hi Ross, there are lot of financial software programs out there. I just recently noticed that RBC has a “budget” component in their online banking system. What are your thoughts? Are they useful or superficial? Would I be exposing too much...
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You are at the mercy of your warranty when it comes to small electronics Hi Ross, I’m upset about a warranty issue and would like your thoughts on this subject though it does not pertain to any of your topics you usually handle. Last year in December I purchased a router for about $52 and...
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Experts weigh in on TSFAs (Tax Free Savings Accounts) Many self respecting Canadian personal finance bloggers have written their two cents worth about the tax free savings account, but don’t expect that to slow down. Just as RRSP’s became revered and oft discussed in past years, the TFSA will only assume more space in our...
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I spent a week in Paris – here’s what I learned… Just spent a glorious week in Paris with Svetlana, and came back brimming with observations about one of the most beautiful cities in the world. For example,  about eating: When ordering wine, there is no such thing as a bad choice. Frog legs taste...
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How to get an insurance that actually protects you Today’s article content was provided by Michael Bronstine of GBK  Strategic Financial Partners. Their website is here. “If you have a mortgage on your home, chances are good you also have mortgage insurance. The idea is that if you should become seriously ill or die before...
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ROSS Reviews: The Wealthy Barber Returns, by Dave Chilton I knew of Dave even before he published the Wealthy Barber – and I always admired (and perhaps was jealous) that he had taken an age old saw and made it into a million selling book It was perfect for the times, because the mutual fund...
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Working with a financial advisor can be rewarding, but do your research first Since I first entered the personal finance industry 27 years ago, there has  been a recurring debate about the role of financial planners and advisers and how they serve the Canadian public. Today, in 2011, the issues and questions have not really...
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How joining the APA can save you money when buying your next car Svetlana was a bit disappointed. She figured we were just getting warmed up. Why not move in for the kill? I explained it would take too long and be too aggravating and they were going to grind us every step of the...
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Do you really need long term care insurance? This is a relatively new product offered by the insurance industry – and one definitely worth taking a look at for mid-lifers and beyond. Robb Engen of Boomer and Echo fame recently published an article on this topic, and here it is for you. Related Articles Life insurance on...
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What do you need to know about RRSPs? I was approached by a writer from the USA who was doing an article on RRSP’s, comparing Canadian and American retirement planning strategies. He asked me to help him, as his knowledge of RRSP’s was about the same as my knowledge of 401K plans. (limited!) He had...
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How to manage your money when you’re in your 20’s Mike at the Financial Blogger has lots of great material for young adults. This particular article is NOT your everyday boring money management segment. It’s more of a lifestyle piece with financial benefits. You will also find links to other great stuff he has written....
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What are some financial goals to hit before you turn 30? It’s hard to produce fresh material when you are on vacation, but I am reading and researching other bloggers’ stuff. Some of it is really good, and worth repeating here as my readers may not have seen this stuff before. This article was written...
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I particularly enjoy reading Clare’s “Young and Thrifty” personal finance blog. She is a twenty-something who truly is in touch with her peer group. In this article I am linking to, she counsels Generation Y how to co exist in the workplace. Check it out, and some of her other excellent writings too. Generation Y in...
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AskRoss recommends the best personal finance blogs – July 30, 2011 Most bloggers go through an initial phase where they write reams of content, but actually have a very small audience. The hope is one day their site will become “sticky”, and a regular, faithful readership will evolve over time. That’s the nature of the...
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AskRoss recommends the best personal finance blogs – July 22, 2011 Here are the articles I found this week which I think maybe interesting for my readers. Hope you enjoy! Clare at Young and Thrifty writes about how it can be tiring if you are frugal all the time, and that it is ok to splurge now...
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AskRoss recommends the best personal finance blogs – July 15, 2011 Here are this week’s articles which deserve a broader audience. They cover topics such as how much do you need to retire, credit cards for small business owners, achieving financial bliss in a second marriage, the last minute RESP, investing in TFSA’s as a...
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Dear Ross  Recently a friend asked me many questions about LIRA’s and LIF’s, and I did not know how to answer him. Seems this is more complex than RRSP’s and RRIF”s. Can you help? Whenever I am asked a question about something I don’t deal with everyday, I look to see if I know a...
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Aeroplan Rewards are not always a great deal! Dear Ross: I am having great trouble using my Aeroplan reward points. I was offered a round trip to OZ this morning via Tokyo and Beijing for the bargain price of 1.4 MILLION Aeroplan points!!!!!  Not even all Business class 2 economy and 1 BC leg…whew! As...
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Published: • Once your money is spent, you can’t get it back – use it wisely. When my son was 16, he worked at a pizza store. He would tell me how many people will order 4 or 6 cans of pop with their pizza order – adding several dollars to their bill. He said,...
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No matter how little you make, you need to regularly save some money. The reason “pay yourself first” works is because you treat your savings plan with the same respect and importance you attach to your rent or car payment. You consider your savings plan a highly important monthly bill which must be honored no...
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AskRoss recommends the best personal finance blogs – June 22, 2011 I follow many writers in the world of personal finance – not all are listed below. These guys write in a style or about topics which I think are of interest to my personal audience. It is hard to be all things to all...
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Beware of potential scams when you’re selling your car My sons Mike and Max were out driving around town last week when their car made some funny sounds and ground to a complete stop in the middle of a busy intersection. No signs of life, just an ominous sound when the key was turned. Sounded...
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Not sure how you’ll pay for post secondary education? Now that I have officially entered the world of social media marketing, I am coming across fellow bloggers and commentators I did not previously know about. Today while “tweeting” I found Boomer and Echo, and this useful blog entry on paying for post secondary education. Related...
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Want financial freedom and success? These 4 tips will get you on your way This is intended to be a basic primer for setting you on the right course for financial strength throughout your life. As you become more and more successful, you will seek out more sophisticated information – and there’s lots of that...
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You must step up to the plate and develop your child’s financial proficiency There are no exceptions – we all have to learn how to manage money matters – yet very little is done in advance to prepare us for this massive responsibility. Real world examples and education at an early age will be some...
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Credit cards are a necessary evil in today’s society. You need to have one or two for (a) the convenience when no other method of payment will do, and (b) to ensure you are building and maintaining a healthy credit score. Over the past year, my personal favourite has become the Infinite card from TD...
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Some practical advice from a father to his daughter who prepared to move out before she was ready Dear Ross – my teenage daughter has signed an apartment lease – help! From: Angie Sent: May-02-11 8:08 PM To: Daddy Subject: In a pickle… Hi Daddy, I need to ask you a really big favour.  I got myself into a...
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Getting a new vehicle comes with a hefty price tag beyond the sticker price Some people routinely replace their car for a new one every three or four years. Others try to coax an extra year or two out of aging clunkers, and then there are those of us who curse and whine our way...
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Follow many personal finance blogs – including David’s Ning’s USA based blog with a definite slant towards frugality and saving. The following list is borrowed (and Canadianized) from a recent posting at his site by Emily Guy Birkin. Top Ten Excuses for Not Saving by Emily Guy Birken It seems that every time you turn...
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Does it make sense to have a life insurance policy for your child? One of my “go to” guys in the world of insurance is Brian Shumak – a highly respected insurance professional in the GTA with two solid decades of experience under his belt. I asked Brian if he would like to contribute some...
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The price of gold is rising I must admit, I have always had a fascination with gold, and gold stocks in particular. Goes back to my early days as a stockbroker when ripples in the price of gold would send shockwaves through the gold stocks – Lac Minerals I recall, was particularly kind to me...
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How can a couple with different financial values find common ground? This article in the October 05, 2010 Globe and Mail, written by Noreen Rasbach, hit home on a point that many couples grapple with. Bridging the spender-saver divide By NOREEN RASBACH Globe and Mail Update Many couples fight about money – here’s what experts...
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You could be missing out on hundreds of dollars! I found this article on www.msn.ca. It was written by By Liz Pulliam Weston, September 17, 2010 – and hits the mark in several places. Every time you buy a duplicate of something you already own, leave a rebate unclaimed or forget to pay a bill on time, you’re...
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Money Top Source of Stress for North American Couples, Survey Finds  Partners go to extremes to avoid fighting about finances American Express 6/16/2010 What do American couples fight about most? It’s not so much about the kids, the in-laws or who’s in charge of the remote. It’s about how they handle their finances. That was...
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You need to have an emergency fund before you start planning to go on vacation! Day to day, in credit counselling, we preach the importance of learning how to save and why it is so important. This article in the Globe by Angela Self makes the point very well. “If you had to finance an...
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Raising our children and taking care of our parents – what it’s like to be a “sandwich boomer” I found this article online. The author Robert Powell, talks about the realities of a specific slice of the ‘baby boomer’ generation. We are ‘sandwich boomers’. We not only worry about raising and educating our kids, we...
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407 Tolls Are Not Included In Consumer Proposals Or Bankruptcy I attended a credit counselling meeting today with a lady in the late stages of a successful consumer proposal. She related a story of how she also owed $1,800 in unpaid 407  tolls at the time she entered into her proposal, and wrongly assumed this...
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‘Plan like a pessimist (to) live like an optimist’ I read this interview of Gail Vaz-Oxlade in today’s Saturday Star – and it really resonated with me. Her mantra is simple yet practical advice for all. The part I liked best was when Gail says you should NOT pay off all your debts before you...
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It’s the end of the tax year – here’s what you need to do Time is running out to qualify for Ottawa’s $1,350 home renovation tax credit, and you have even less time to make use of year-end tax strategies. So here a few timely reminders. Tax tips for home renovators You have until Feb....
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Engaged or Married? Quick Money Tips For A Great Start On The Road of Life This article is the third in a series on personal finance and investing at different stages of your life. As some issues may overlap the different stages of life, they could be covered in a prior or subsequent article. Money...
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